I’ve been doing a lot of work recently on how our values impact onto the goals we set ourselves, and how the values and beliefs of others can also affect us. One example used to illustrate this is the story of a friend of mine who discovered that their 8 year old daughter, Jenny, was affected by dyslexia. Jenny’s parents arranged to see her teacher to discuss the best way to handle the situation and the impact this was having on her school work.
The Teacher’s view was that Jenny didn’t need to worry too much about her education or career as she was a very very pretty girl and wasn’t going to find life to be very hard. The parents were shocked and horrified, but the Teacher was simply trying to reassure the parents.
Instead of talking about the people such as Picasso, Einstein, Richard Branson and so on who have all been very successful despite being affected by varying degrees of dyslexia, the Teacher’s view was that Jenny would have no problem when she was older in finding a man to marry and provide for her. The Teacher concerned was in her sixties and her values and beliefs perhaps belonged to a different generation. The “encouragement” offered to the parents resulted in them moving Jenny to a different school where she is now thriving under a different approach to the issues she faces.
When discussing this example the reaction is always one of surprise that a teacher can have such “outdated” ideas about the “ideal future” for females leaving school. Is this belief really that outdated though?
At a recent open evening for children who are about to make the move from primary to secondary school I was with a group of Mums who were talking about their childrens prospects. One Mother, who has a boy and a girl, was explaining that her son’s choice of school was a more important decision as her daughter was very unlikely to be the main bread winner in the family, a view echoed by another of the Mums who expressed the opinion that if necessary, her sons would attend private school to give them the best opportunity for progression, whereas her daughters would be attending the local state school, as a career for them wasn’t that important….
I was bought up believing that everyone is an individual and what you make of your life is up to you, sex doesn’t come into the equation. It would appear in the two families mentioned above that the children are growing up believing that the man is the breadwinner and the woman’s role is that of home maker.
These beliefs and values will undoubtedly have an impact onto the goals and ambitions of the children concerned, and the values and beliefs of Leaders and Managers have a similar impact on the behaviours and actions of the people they interact with. Parents, Techers, Leaders and Managers are all role models and what we think and believe will influence the behaviour and beliefs of those around us.
As for the mothers above, I personally think they are letting down their daughters and the women that their sons will go onto marry, and should be ashamed of themselves. If we are going to eradicate sexual stereotypes and bring about equality, it is necessary for parents to communicate and demonstrate these principles to their children. Or perhaps you agree with the two mums and the teacher?
What values were instilled in you by your Mum and Dad?